1743] To Horace Mann 367 Sicily began, and had not touched at any port there, that the Admiralty absolved it. Then the things were brought up; then they were sent back to be aired; and still I am not to have them in a week. I tremble for the pictures; for they are to be aired at the rough discretion of a master of a hoy, for nobody I could send would be suffered to go aboard. The City is outrageous; for you know, to merchants there is no plague so dreadful as a stoppage of their trade. The Eegency are so temporising and timid, especially in this inter-ministerium1, that I am in great apprehensions of our having the plague: an island, so many ports, no power absolute or active enough to establish the necessary precautions, and all are necessary! it is terrible! And now it is on the continent too! While confined to Sicily, there were hopes: but I scarce conceive that it will stop in two or three villages in Calabria. My dear child, Heaven preserve you from it! I am in the utmost pain on its being so near you. What will you do ! whither will you go, if it reaches Tuscany ? Never think of staying in Florence : shall I get you permission to retire out of that State, in case of danger ? but sure you would not hesitate on such a crisis! We have no news from the army: the minister there2 communicates nothing to those here. No answer comes about the Treasury. All is suspense: and clouds of breaches ready to burst. How strange is all this jumble! Trance with an unsettled ministry; England with an unsettled one; a victory just gained over them, yet no war ensuing, or declared from either side ; our minister still at Paris, as if to settle an amicable intelligence of the losses on both sides ! I think there was only wanting for Mr. Thompson:( LETTER 126.—l The office of First Lord of the Treasury remained vacant until the appointment of Henry Pelham (25 Aug. 1743). Coxe con-jecturea that the delay was due to the King's-wish to consult Sir R.Walpole. 2 Lord Oarteret. 3 Eev. Antony Thompson, Chargg d'Ajfaires; afterwards Dean of Eaphoe.